Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When the Ghost Screams by Leslie Rule

In honor of Halloween, I decided to read a series of true ghost stories with the promise that this book "will leave you with goose bumps and a strong desire to sleep with the lights on!" at least according to the back cover. Unfortunately, this book did no such thing, maybe because I'm a skeptic, but I really just think it's poor storytelling.

This book focuses on who the ghosts are, looking mostly at victims. There are stories of missing persons that are believed to haunt places, accident victims, war victims, and even those that fell prey to the witch hunts. One section discusses prisoners that have yet to move on, another looks at just odd occurrences with ghosts, and then it all ends with places you can visit or stay at that are haunted. There are a lot of stories, some which are barely even a page long. Most of the information in the book focuses on telling the back story of the ghost and how they came to their untimely end, not so much on the ghostly actions.

Unfortunately, it seems like more time is spent on their story than the actual hauntings. That seems to be one of my biggest complaints is that I don't think the collection does a good enough job convincing the reader that hauntings are going on. It almost feels like there's a big long story about the person and then "people have reported seeing a woman's ghostly form"...next story. The encounters feel vague and most everything is from a third person. People say this or this happens at this place but it all feels so removed or like it's hearsay. To me it didn't feel reliable. Maybe I'm just looking for proof or more specifics of what people saw - create some imagery for me! It all just feels like a story, not anything true and there aren't enough details of what goes on in terms of the hauntings to have me convinced something odd is going on. My other major complaint are the pictures. This book is filled with photographs, which would normally be a great thing, if the pictures showed anything. "This is the store that is haunted" tells me nothing! In the entire book, there is only one picture that actually shows a "ghost." It really irked me when in one story the book talked about how photographers capture great "spirit-like streaks...exiting the structure" (96) and the accompanying picture is a 1930s postcard. Where are these pictures with the spirits?!

This book proved to be a huge disappointment. I can't say that a single story scared me. There was too much of who the person was and not enough of the things that go bump in the night. The author failed to create a picture for the reader so that they could feel the presence of the ghost. Maybe I'm just a skeptic, but I would think a book like this would have me thinking things might be amiss in terms of whether ghosts are real or not. This book did nothing to make me think ghosts might be walking among us.

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